The Caerphilly Castle Ladies and Girls U10’s today welcomed Fairwater juniors to the Owain Glyndwr fields for what was the second round of league fixtures after last week’s washout. If last year’s encounters were anything to go by the home team would need to show strong form to compete against the well-drilled Cardiff team.
With the game at home, no the issues with travelling and a new starter on board Caerphilly had a massive squad of 12 players for the 7-a-side game. While this would prove to cause coaching headaches in ensuring plenty of game time for everyone it meant welcome rests for all players during the 3-20minutes games.
Adopting a now familiar 2-3-1 formation for the first kick off the Caerphilly side took to the field with Seren E, Lexi and Ellie-may making up the defensive positions with Layla, Tayla, Ava and Grace taking care of the midfield and attacking duties.
In what was a tight first encounter chances were hard to come by for both sides. With the two strong midfields largely cancelling each other out a lot of play was seen in the middle third. It did however, became apparent that the traveling team had some real pace in their ranks, both in attack and covering defence. The several first half chances that Caerphilly did carve out through Tayla and Grace were dealt with by the latter shutting the options down before shots could be taken. The score 0-0 after the first 10 minute half.
Several player swaps allowed some new pairings and fresh legs with Megan B, Meg H and Summer entering the contest and Sophia, making her first appearance for the team, to come on and try to break the deadlock.
The home side did create some attacking pressure with the best chance of the half created by Layla, who after taking control of ball on the half way, rounded a travelling defender to break through and shoot powerfully, only to be thwarted by the impressive Fairwater keeper diving to her right to push the shot over the bar.
While Fairwater did show the attacking potential that they had within their team several breaks were dealt with by the dependable Caerphilly defensive unit, who again showed real promise and anticipation beyond their age. It was the covering efforts that were to eventually win the day in the first game with neither side able to beat the tough defensive units and create the game winning chance. A strong first game for the Caerphilly team!
With the teams now a little more accustomed to each other’s style of play the players started to find space and create more attacking chances. Caerphilly were keen to get on the front foot at every opportunity and played a little higher up the pitch. As a result chances were created with Summer, Grace and Layla all going close but unable to find the back of the net. The deadlock was eventually broken when Fairwater showed their pace and broke down the right before moving the ball back central and getting a low shot away into the corner of the goal.
This was to be a test of Caerphilly’s character being as the yellows had managed 3 clean sheets in their last 5 games; could they deal with an established team taking the lead after such great efforts in the first game. They were determined to show that they were up to it. Several more attacks were dealt with through a combination of Ava’s impressive covering play, Ellie-May and Lexi’s strong challenges, Megan H’s speed to the ball and Seren’s determination to stop anything within her range. Some great through balls from Megan Berry and Sofia set up a string of chances for Grace and Layla before the latter again broke through, passing a red midfielder and while surrounded by 3 away defenders fired into the bottom left corner from 20 yards, taking her tally to 8 in 3 game weeks. The team again tried to push forward for the winner, with Skye playing up front and making her first appearance of the day. Unfortunately it was the travelling team who showed their experience of playing together. Arguably the pass of the day managed to catch out our defence with their striker pushing through and showing nerves of steel to place the ball past the advancing Seren.
One more set of changes for the second half saw Summer take up the goalkeeping duties and Meg and Megan B try out a new defensive partnership. A tight remainder to the game meant no more goals, however, a very entertaining game with moments of real skill.
In the last of the three games Caerphilly were again determined to show that they were a match for the skill of the travelling team. Showing all the qualities seen in the earlier exchanges Caerphilly matched the reds stride for stride. With Ellie-May and Lexi now back in defence and looking as solid as ever and Summer showing real calmness under pressure in goal a loss never really looked an option. Moments of flair and pace from the travelling team were shut down and kept away from the danger area. Sofia,Meg H and Megan B again displayed some real vision in midfield and with Ava providing a great link between defence and midfield this was all about whether the team could break down the excellent travelling defensive play. Skye found herself in space on several occasions with Grace and Layla again keen to latch on to any half chance. It wasn’t to be though and as in the first game the game ended in deadlock. Probably a fitting result for what was a show of real resilient, tight, skilful football over the three games.
Caerphilly, in only their second game week of the league season showed real evidence that they have progressed a huge amount since last season and are forming a strong, determined team with great spirit and comradery with options in all positions. Well done all!!